Claude Debussy's Clair de Lune

ISBN : 9780190696078

Gurminder Kaur Bhogal
176 Pages
140 x 210 mm
Pub date
Aug 2018
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  • First book dedicated to Clair de Lune
  • Marks the centenary of Debussy's death through the study of his best known composition
  • Companion website offers readers a wide range of aural, visual, and video examples

Debussy himself had little regard for Clair de Lune, and scholars have thus far followed suit—until now. Claude Debussy's Clair de Lune is the first book wholly dedicated to an historical, cultural, and analytical investigation of the French composer's famous composition for piano. Author Gurminder Kaur Bhogal explores why, over any other piece in Debussy's repertoire for piano, Clair de Lune achieved stardom in the decades following the composer's death, and how, as the third movement of the Suite Bergamasque, it managed to almost fully eclipse the other movements. Drawing on a broad range of excerpts from classical and popular music, commercials, film, and video games, Bhogal examines the various ways in which listeners have engaged with the piece. She also places it in its proper artistic context, through analysis alongside the poetry of Paul Verlaine and the paintings of Jean-Antoine Watteau. A wide range of aural, visual, and video examples energize the narrative, and demonstrate how Clair de Lune has come to achieve an iconic status within and beyond Debussy's oeuvre.

"An original and engaging exploration of one of Debussy's most iconic compositions." - Marianne Wheeldon, Professor of Music Theory, University of Texas at Austin

"The story of how, and why, Debussy's moonlight music has so entranced listeners, for a century and more, is told here with the kind of cultural insight that would have delighted its composer." - Jonathan Dunsby, Professor of Music Theory, Eastman School of Music



About the Companion Website
1. Your Clair de Lune
2. Resonances of Clair de Lune
3. The Suite Bergamasque Takes Shape
4. Poetry, Art, and Music
5. Debussy and the Moon
Additional Sources for Listening and Reading

About the author: 

Gurminder Kaur Bhogal is Associate Professor in Music at Wellesley College. She has published widely on the music and aesthetics of composers working in Paris at the turn of the twentieth century (including Claude Debussy, Gabriel Fauré, Maurice Ravel, Erik Satie, and Igor Stravinsky). Her most recent monograph, Details of Consequence: Ornament, Music, and Art in Paris, explores the expressive use of decorative gestures in musical and visual contexts.

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